On February 14th, I visited the Environmental Science Magnet School to observe Adam Smith’s 6th grade math class. I really liked what he was doing with the students when we arrived. The students had a their math workbooks out and were looking at the practice problems for that day’s assignment. However, rather than working on solving them, Mr. Smith was facilitating an activity which was aiming to ensure all the students understood the question. He had instructed the students to circle the words which were confusing to them, and was going word by word through the question, asking what the problem was asking for and calling on different students around the room.
As they worked on this, I looked around Mr. Smith’s classroom to try to get an idea of the environment. The students were seated in clusters of 3, as they were frequently expected to work in these small groups with their neighbors. The front of the room was primarily handwritten posters of formulas and example problems and solutions. The side walls had a mix of more of these as well as some motivational posters. Mr. Smith’s desk was in the back, but he stayed up front by the white board the entire time he was teaching. He was utilizing the projector to display the instructions the students were looking at in their workbook, but also utilized a blank stretch of board to draw or write examples. Mr. Smith also travelled around the room most of the time, checking the students’ papers to make sure they were focusing on circling unknown words. He emphasized that he really wanted to make sure they cleared up any confusion before the students left the room.
Mr. Smith went a little over the normally scheduled class period. He passed out exit tickets for the students to complete. Initially he emphasized that he wanted everyone to complete the exit ticket prior to leaving, but upon realizing the time, he excused those in the class who had not completed it.
Mr. Smith was very eager and helpful when meeting with Lexi and myself once the students left. He shared the workbook pages that would be assigned on the day we would be teaching our first lesson, and also allowed us to take photos of the standards outlined in his teacher copy of the book. He seemed very flexible, telling us that we should feel free to conduct our lesson however we see fit to get the information to us. I’m very excited to work with him and his class, and I thought observing his teaching was a very insightful way for me to see what I’ll be doing in just a few short weeks.